If you’ve written a romance novel and are looking to have it published by a traditional publisher, consider pitching to Harlequin, the leading publisher of romance fiction.
While many publishers only accept pitches from authors with agents, Harlequin makes publishing more accessible by accepting un-agented submissions. They are actively looking for pitches from diverse and underrepresented voices too!
In this article, we chat with Emma Cole, Associate Editor for Harlequin Romantic Suspense to get her tips on pitching to Harlequin. Below we discuss making your pitch stand out, mistakes to avoid, and what you can do if your pitch is rejected.
Do This to Make Your Pitch Stand Out
It’s mentioned several places on the Harlequin website and Emma reiterates the point—being succinct goes a long way when pitching.
“It’s tricky to boil down your entire novel to one or two sentences but the pitches that stand out are the ones that do this successfully,” Emma says.
She notes having a fresh or slightly different take on the tropes Harlequin is looking for and demonstrating that you know enough about writing craft to be the one to tell that interesting story can help your pitch stand out too.
Don’t Forget to Include A Full Synopsis
While successfully boiling your novel down to a sentence or two in the pitch will help your work stand out, not submitting a full synopsis as part of your submission can have the opposite effect.
“Something that I think often gets overlooked is that when you’re pitching to an editor or an agent, we need to see the full synopsis with your pitch. It doesn’t need to be overly detailed, but we do need to see the major plot points for the entire story,” Emma says.
“We receive many pitches and submissions where the author sends us a pitch that is more like marketing copy they would send to readers, piquing their interest without giving away the ending, but we simply receive too many submissions to read every one if it’s not a good fit. It’s especially important in romance for us to know whether the main characters get their happily ever after!”
Don’t give up
When I ask Emma what a writer should do if their work is rejected, she says first and foremost not to lose hope!
“Getting acquired is a combination of talent, timing, persistence, and luck. Your writing might not work for one editor but the next person you pitch to might fall in love with your story. If you get a rejection, you should first go back to the submission guidelines to make sure that your story does in fact fit what we’re looking for. If you submitted your historical romance to our contemporary romance series, even if it’s the best thing we’ve read that month we won’t be able to accept it.”
If you feel like you’ve followed all the submission guidelines, your manuscript may need some revisions.
“If you have a critique partner, a beta reader, or a writing group, you can send your manuscript to them and get some feedback,” Emma suggests.
“Fresh eyes can sometimes pinpoint an issue you’ve missed. Harlequin is happy to accept your next submission even if your first is declined, so keep writing!”
For more tips on submitting to Harlequin check out their website and blog writeforharlequin.com.
To see what Emma is up to in the literary world, follow her on Bluesky and X/Twitter @EditrixEmma